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Forces War Records Blog


The mystery of an unknown soldier has been solved by veterans who turned detective to discover what happened to James Clark.

When Haslingden's Royal British Legion Club closed in August last year a roll of honour for the Haslingden First World War soldiers who fought and died was given to the Irish Democratic League Club on George Street, Haslingden. Angus Lindsay, a committee member of the IDL Club, wanted to have all the soldiers who lost their lives from the Second World War similarly honoured and produced a roll of honour with 111 names on. He said: "We had been given the names by author the late Bill Turner, who wrote about the Accrington Pals.

"We had information to say their rank, when they died and where they were buried, how old they were and whether they were married. "We had these details for all the other names but in the middle was this name James Clarke and we could not find any information." When he heard about the veterans' appeal for memorials, Angus contacted VIC manager Bob Elliott to see if they could identify the soldier. By chance, the veterans were checking graves the former Haslingden Congregational Church graveyard off New Street in Haslingden and came across a Commonwealth grave to James Clark. It carried an Australian insignia and gave his army number, giving Bob the information he needed to research the mysterious soldier. Bob said: "It turned out that James did come from Haslingden but left the town with his dad when he was 15 and emigrated to Australia and settled in Tasmania. "He enlisted in the 12th Battalion Australian Infantry in August 1915 aged 18-and-a-half. The unit fought and served with the ANZAC in Gallipoli, Egypt and in 1916 fought on the Western Front. "The unit fought at the Somme, Ypres and the great allied offensive near Amiens. There is no evidence to show that James did not take part in all the offensives that the 12th Battalion were involved in." Records show that James died on the 30th March 1919 from bronchopneumonia the day after he was admitted to hospital. The matron recorded ‘poor boy he had evidently just kept going till he'd collapsed' He was buried in a family plot at Haslingden Congregational Chapel graveyard. Although he was Clark without the E - Angus and Bob believe there are too many similarities for it not to be the missing soldier. Bob presented Angus with full information about James and said: "We were very pleased to have been able to help to solve the mystery." Angus said: "I am very impressed with the work Bob and the veterans have done. Quite a few people have looked at the roll of honour and asked about James, now we will be able to tell them who he was." Source:
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